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Journalism graduate student Joe Kuczynski interviews Charles Coolidge, Tennessee’s only living Medal of Honor recipient.

The 2014 Medal of Honor Convention, to be held in Knoxville September 10 through 13, is giving UT students special opportunities to interact with some our nation’s most honored veterans.

Assistant Professor Nick Geidner directs the Medal of Honor Project, an award-winning service-learning collaboration between UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media and the 2014 Medal of Honor Convention. Through the project, students will be chronicling the convention and producing written, audio, and video pieces related to it.

Students working with the project also will moderate a town hall meeting featuring Medal of Honor recipients Clinton Romesha and Donald “Doc” Ballard on September 12. Free and open to the public, the town hall will be held at 10:00 a.m. in Cox Auditorium in UT’s Alumni Memorial Building, 1408 Middle Drive.

Geidner and his Medal of Honor Project students began their work last year, attending the 2013 Medal of Honor convention held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to get to know convention organizers and some of the medal recipients.

UT students will be producing a feature-length documentary chronicling the 2014 convention.

The students are also working on a documentary about Tennessee’s thirty-two Medal of Honor recipients, which will be targeted to middle school and high school students. A possible third documentary would look at the wives and widows of Medal of Honor recipients.

Paxton Elrod, a junior in journalism, interviewed Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis.

“Having the opportunity to sit and listen to him talk about his life, struggles, and experiences blew my mind,” Elrod said. “To even be in the presence of someone who is considered such a hero for my country was an honor. The best part is that the recipients don’t see themselves that way at all. They are just normal people who—in their eyes—did a normal thing by saving lives.”

Journalism graduate student Joe Kuczynski interviewed Charles Coolidge, Tennessee’s only living Medal of Honor recipient.

“We talked for over an hour about his time in the army, the days that led to his receiving the medal, and how he has adjusted to returning to Tennessee,” Kuczynski said. “It is important to chronicle these events and make sure we don’t forget about people who’ve given everything they’ve ever had for their country.”

For more about the JEM’s Medal of Honor Project, visit the School of Journalism and Electronic Media.

Other units within the university also will be involved:

  • A variety of classes within the College of Communication and Information have incorporated Medal of Honor convention activities into their curriculum this fall. One class is creating videos about area landmarks, such as the Buck Karnes Bridge in Knoxville, that are named after Medal of Honor recipients. Another class is working on radio stories featuring local veterans. Public relations students will be crafting press releases, fact sheets, and other supporting materials for the convention.
  • The Center for Health Education and Wellness, along with UT Libraries and the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans, will host a breakfast for faculty, staff, and student veterans and ROTC members prior to the September 12 town hall.
  • The Center for the Study of War and Society will be helping with second town hall meeting, to be held at 10:00 a.m. on September 12 in the Zach Wamp Auditorium of the Y-12 National Security Complex New Hope Center. Center Coordinator Cynthia Tinker has been assisting WBIR with its “Profiles in Courage” series, which profiles local veterans and Medal of Honor recipients.
  • UT ROTC students will serve as the color guard and members will be attending various convention events to interact with the veterans.

For more information about the Medal of Honor Convention in Knoxville, visit the website.

C O N T A C T:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,